Cold Tracker (Short Film) (2012)

4 Apr


Smith’s Verdict: ***

Reviewed by Tanner Smith

“Cold Tracker” is a short Western, set in the American Civil War era, about a man who returns home to rural Arkansas after serving in the war, only to find that his wife had been murdered only the day before. With the law unwilling to go after the bandits responsible, the man takes matters into his own hands and sets out to track them down himself.

It sounds like a standard story for a Western, but what makes it interesting is the way the titular cold tracker (Scott McEntire) is struggling with the conflict of dealing with the loss of his wife (Mandy Fason), whom he knows he could have protected if he returned just one day earlier. While he’s on this crusade to track down her killers, he is accompanied by a vision of his wife that aids him as he continues. This leads to the choice of what to do when he actually finds them. Will he kill them in order to avenge his wife, or will he let the law do the job?

All of this occurs in a running time of 13 minutes (well, 12 minutes, excluding the credits), creating a brisk pace and not stopping for anything pointless. The flashbacks are placed properly in intersecting with the ongoing story, and the film even manages to leave room for one effective dramatic scene—a flashback in which the tracker leaves for war and tells his crying wife goodbye. This makes his journey all the more effective in that you know how much guilt he feels in knowing that was the last time he would see her alive.

My only quibbles with “Cold Tracker” are minor. Some line-readings are a bit stilted (but for the most part, they’re spot-on). And also, being a 13-minute short with enough story material for 20 minutes (at least), parts of the film felt a bit rushed, and unfortunately so does the ultimate resolution/redemption for the hero. It’s there, but it feels hurried. But to the film’s credit, the ending, what follows that scene, does have enough weight to continue to feel for what has occurred before.

“Cold Tracker” was written and directed by Leon Tidwell, the visually-impaired Arkansas filmmaker who also made the amusing short “The Conversation.” That was a film that allowed him to show, in a narrative metaphorical way, the frustrations in finding work because of his disability. With “Cold Tracker,” it’s clearer that this is a guy who truly loves movies and is determined to keep making movies despite his visual impairment. And I further look forward to seeing his latest work, because “Cold Tracker” is a good short film that continues to showcase the talent of this skillful filmmaker.

NOTE: The film can be seen here:

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